2011 Aston Martin Rapide


Don’t call it a sedan. The 2010 Aston Martin Rapide is, according to company insiders, “the world’s most elegant four door sports car”. And for once the PR hype is right — the first production Rapide, unveiled at a private party the night before the first press day at the Frankfurt Show, looked damned elegant under the lights at the hip Roomers Hotel. And it is a sports car.Let’s cut to the chase: The Rapide’s back seats are nowhere near as roomy as those of the Porsche Panamera. Elegance has a price — whereas my 6’2″ frame will fit behind a driver’s seat set to my optimum driving position in Porsche’s four-door with an inch of kneeroom to spare, my knees are brushing the backrest in the close-coupled Aston. Surprisingly, I have an inch or so of headroom in the Rapide, but that swoopy greenhouse means I can’t see much out the side window without stooping. And getting my big feet out from the deep footwells involves some ungraceful contortions.

Okay, so it’s not like a limo back there. But does that mean the Aston Rapide is a failure? Not for a moment. The reality is that the Rapide, like most S-class Benzes and 7 Series BMWs, will only occasionally carry four adults, and then only for relatively short trips. “This is perfectly okay for a half hour trip to a nice restaurant,” says Aston CEO Ulrich Bez of the Rapide’s rear cabin. And he’s right.The rest of the time, the Rapide owner can bask in the warm glow that, unlike the Porsche Panamera, his fast four-door is turning heads for all the right reasons. You can bet he won’t be spending a lot of time explaining why the Aston looks the way it does. It’s viscerally gorgeous.

The car is built on Ulrich Bez’s clever VH flexible architecture, which means it shares a lot of hardware under the skin with existing Astons. Front and rear suspension is similar to DB9. Only one engine — the 6.0-liter V-12, tuned to develop 470 hp and 443lb ft of torque — will be available, driving the rear wheels through an upgraded “Touchtronic 2” version of the ZF six-speed automatic.

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